I know people are desperate. Last week, we wrote about a person who is so desperate, she was thinking of working for an allegedly disreputable attorney just to get experience.
But employers who are trying to take advantage of the desperation in the recent graduate market are real jerks. Trying to get desperate recent grads to work for free (or to actually pay you to work) isn’t taking advantage of a market opportunity, it’s taking advantage of people.
We’ve seen a lot of employers offering to “hire” people for free, but rarely with the kind of pompous overtones of the Craigslist ad below. It’s one of those ads that boasts about a lot of things in ALL CAPS, except for when it comes to paying people….
If you’ve seen some of our horrible jobs before, you know how this works. This Chicago firm is offering an opportunity for a law clerk to get in on the “ground floor” of an “expanding” firm. Yeah, but they’re so confident in their business model that they can’t pay minimum freaking wage to somebody who is supposed to help with this glorious expansion.
What makes this position particularly interesting is that the firm is looking for a 2L who is still in school to work while they’re still taking classes (and eventually studying for the bar, I guess.) So these guys literally expect somebody to work for free when they should be focusing on their grades — which I guess is one way to make sure that their hire will have a crappy enough transcript that they’ll have to keep working for free.
Why do they expect people to do this? They explain in their ad:
Why should I want to be your law clerk?
It is no secret that there aren’t very many available job openings for new graduates. More specifically, a large percentage of new law grads are unemployed or are working in non-law related fields. This opportunity will likely be a golden ticket for the Law Clerk that has the “it” factor we are looking for. While managing your school/work balance will certainly be a challenge, your ability to balance our demands while keeping up your grades will demonstrate to us that we’ve chosen the right candidate.
Why are you asking me to work for free?
Because we’ve done it ourselves. We’ve reached the pinnacle of our success today by investing in ourselves. Even as new members of the bar, we knew that if we got our foot the door of a law firm it would be impossible for them not to hire us. They did, we were rapidly promoted, and now we’re looking to provide the same opportunity to a driven. forward-looking student. Since we are looking to invest in your future, you should be willing to invest in our firm.
Honestly, what d-bags. You reached the “pinnacle of success” by giving away your legal services for free?
What really bothers me about this ad is that, somehow, these people expect to get great, confident candidates who paradoxically undervalue themselves so much that they’re desperate to do free corporate legal work while they’re still in school:
Who should NOT apply?
Students that are applying as a “stop gap” until they can find their “ideal” position should NOT apply. We will see through your intentions in about fifteen seconds. Furthermore, those that are not CONFIDENT that they are going to “WOW” us within the first five minutes of the interview should shuffle through. Likewise, potential applicants who are not committed to devoting themselves to our mission, assimilate to our culture , are afraid of rapid change, or wouldn’t wake up feeling great about themselves if the day before they literally changed someone’s life for the better might should reconsider reading any further. Moreover, if you’ve asked yourself once “why would I work for free?” while reading this ad – we won’t fit well together.
Yeah, if you’ve read this ad and thought, “But I expect to be treated fairly by my employers,” you probably won’t “fit well” either.
And just for the record, I’ve worked for free before. When I first started to write, I had no experience and limited skills and I needed both. I sent out letters to publications all across the city looking for anybody to hire and teach me, and finding such a free position was the key to my successful transition. I’ll be the first person to tell people that there is value in working for free, if you can afford to do so.
But not like this. You work for free for people who will make an investment in your career, not for people who are looking to exploit you to further their own interests.
And really, it’s not all that hard to figure out the difference between people looking to exploit you and people who are looking out for you. For one thing, people who are interested in helping you are kind of embarrassed that they don’t have the budget to pay you! They say things like, “Man, sorry I can’t pay you right now, but what I can do for you is [training, experience].” People looking to exploit you say things like, “Dance, monkey, dance. If you amuse me I might throw you some peanuts.”
Who in the hell do these guys think they are? They want you to “devote” yourself to their mission, but they can’t “devote” $7.50 an hour for your services? I’m trying to hire a nanny right now, and I’m willing to pay a lot more than that, not because I want you, but because it’d be ridiculous for me to expect somebody to “devote” themselves to my urchin for the privilege of maybe getting paid by me later.
If you are “CONFIDENT” that you can “WOW” somebody with your “IT” factor, then prove it by applying for better jobs than this.
You can check out the full ad on the next page….